Tripods and a kettle on an open campfire might sound like a great way of outdoor cooking, but a stone stove or outdoor survival oven is a much better way to go. Gusts of wind that might blow smoke and sparks all over the place won’t bother you anymore, and heat stays where it is needed.
I love preserving old knowledge, and this article is no exception. It is based on Harper’s Outdoor Book for Boys by Joseph Adams, which is freely available at the Gutenberg Project. This is my ‘modern’ rewrite of it, with original pictures. Whether you’re preparing for whatever may come your way, or looking for a great weekend outdoor backyard project, these outdoor cooking stoves and ovens are worth looking at.
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How To Build Stone Stoves
Stone stoves are a much better option for cooking fires, as shown in fig. 32. Fire stays in the stone enclosure and heat remains in the center, right underneath your pot.
To make this stove, you’ll need flat stones and some clay if you can get it. Clay can be found in the bed of creeks and can be used to seal the joints. Sealing the joints will make your fire burn better, as the only entry for draught is the draught-hole (the doorway at the base of the stove), which is also where you feed sticks to the fire.
Make a draught-hole on 2 or 3 sides of your stone stove. You can use just 1, and close off the other holes to suit the direction of the wind.
Hang the pot on the center pole so it touches the top of the stove and holds the heat. You can also use a pan on top of the stove for frying fish or meat.
You can make this stone stove either round or square, and if you have bricks available, they’re easier to use than stones because they’re simpler to stack nearly without big gaps.
The center pole (or ridge pole) should be supported by 2 sticks in a tripod (or twopod) on one end, and a yoked stick on the other end. Embed the yoked stick into the ground for at least a foot, so you can remove the center pole without the whole thing collapsing. Always build your campfire or stove in the shade; it won’t burn well in the sun. If it rains, you can put a canopy over the stone stove to keep it dry.
How To Build a Trench Cooking Fire
Onto figure 33, which is a setup suitable for using for a few weeks. A great idea for the summer holidays to build with the kids and enjoy grills and marshmallows on for a few weeks, or camp around in the backyard!
Dig a trench with square sides, 18″ wide, a foot deep, and as long as the distance between your upright poles. Make the fire in the hole, on the ground. The wind won’t bother you half as much as a normal campfire above-ground.
If you have the gear and want to go a step further, have a look at figure 35. This fire involves walling up the sides of the trench with bricks, and building a small chimney at one end. Metal ‘s’ hooks can be used to hang kettles on your center pole
How To Build a Hillside Stove/Outdoor Survival Oven
Figure 36 shows us an outdoor kitchen that the army used to use for camp cooking, and it’s a great outdoor kitchen for all-round stuff.
It does take a fair bit more time to build than the other DIY stoves above, but it is well worth it, for cooking and novelty factor.
Dig a hole, about 3 feet square and 2 feet deep, usually into a hill. Run a lateral shaft on one side, about 1 foot square and 6 feet long, 1 foot from the surface of the ground.
At the extreme end, sink a shaft vertically and form a chimney, and pierce holes at equal distances. Make the holes the right size so kettles don’t slip through. Like this, the kettles can be placed over the fire to boil, or on the side to simmer.
How To Build an Outdoor Bread Oven
I want to tell the young camper how to bake his own bread in camp, so if he camps far from a store or house where he can buy his bread he will not have to eat crackers, or those indigestion-producers, flapjacks, that the youthful camper knows how to make, or thinks he does.–Joseph Adams
We’ll refer to figure 37 now. A bank from 4 to 6 feet is the best for the bread oven. Dig down the bank to a vertical face and excavate a hole at the base of 3-4 feet horizontally. Make sure you keep the entrance as small as possible. Hollow out the sides and arch the roof, until the floor of the oven is about 2 feet wide, and the arch is about 16″ at the centre.
Now, carefully “tap” the back end for a chimney, and put a piece of stove pipe in it if you have it. Aim for a hole of 4 to 6″. Wet the inside of the oven and smooth over the walls so that the mud can harden. Leave it to dry for a day. When you’re ready to bake bread in the oven, build a good fire in it, and remove the fire when it is nice and hot. Scrape the ashes out and put the pans of dough inside.
Close the entry with a board and cover it with mud so you keep all the heat in. If you look after this oven, it’ll last you several weeks!
DIY Oven Without a Bank
If you don’t have a bank to build the bread oven in, you can build a good oven on level ground also. I’ve put the same illustration on here again, because we’ll refer to figure 34.
If you have a barrel, use it. If you don’t have a barrel, use twigs of willow stuck into the ground, and bent over to form a mould.
Over the barrel or willow mould, plaster a stiff mortar made of mud, starting at the base. Lay it on about 6″ thick. Leave to dry for 1-2 days and once it is nearly dry, cut a door at one end and a flue on the other end.
If you don’t have a piece of stove pipe handy, you can build a small mud chimney to increase draught. If you used a barrel for the mould, you can burn it out without hurting your oven. Remove all the dirt and keep up a fire for at least half a day before baking.
I’d love to hear if you’ve built something like these stone stoves or outdoor ovens in your backyard, or while camping! Shows us your photo’s…